Explicit Teaching of Writing in Disciplines

Explicit Teaching of Writing in Disciplines

Supporting the Writing Process through Explicit Teaching 2014 Spring Institute on Teaching with Writing Lorraine Higgins, CxC [email protected] 1980 Now Applebee: 6-12 grade writing in the US 44% lesson: Pen on paper 49% pen on paper (finger on keys)

3% para-length writing 8% para-length writing Typical assignment: 1 p. or less, overnight 3 minutes instruction Summary & report writing; little argument, analysis --------------------- A. Applebee, Studies of Writing in US Schools Typical assignment: 2 pp. over 6 days

English -- significant time on instruction; slight increase in other subjects More argument, analysis but formulaic, driven by highstakes testing Science writing very limited; fill-in-the blank Student brain developing; synthesis difficult Scaffolding EXAMPLE Students choose problem A or B, are given 2 sources. Break assignment into smaller tasks so students

get practice and early feedback. Assign writing to a group to facilitate peer learning Incrementally increase difficulty of tasks , weaning students from support. 1. RSCH PLAN In groups, propose rsch questions & method for locating more sources (key words, databases, primary sources).

2. ANNOTATED BIB Submit annotated bib of 8 additional sources (summary + implications). 3. OUTLINE Outline headings for lit review, organized by research question. Under each, they bullet findings from sources, with in-text citations. 4. DRAFT INDIVIDUAL INTRO & Sequencing in a Large Lab Course 49 FULL Reports 35 Results 70 Result and Discussion 14 methods and PP slides 14 PP presentations or posters

-------------Around 1250 pages plus slides vs. 6300 pages Pause-write-share 1. Choose a writing assignment youve given, possibly one for which you have a sample paper or two. Then choose 1 or 2 below, writing for 10 min. 1. Illustrate (list, flowchart, etc.) how you imagine youd do this assignment. Narrate your approach in as much detail as possible: Where do you start? What do you do as you plan/research/generate ideas? What is your process as you start to draft? What is your revision process like? Do you involve others as you write and re-write? How might you describe the process and break down the task more in your assignment instructions? 2. If you have sample student papers, identify where in a C-level paper you see a persistent type of problem. Underline where this occurs. If you do not have papers, describe how this problem usually manifests itself in the writing. What would you call this problem? Give it a name. Why / how does this problem confuse or frustrate a reader? At what point in

the student writing process might this problem emerge (planning, reading, note-taking, drafting, revising) What might be causing it? Intervening in the Writing Process Planning->Drafting->Revising->Editing generating ideas selecting and connecting ideas organizing & clarifying ideas in prose 1. Analyze the Genre Introduce context, purpose, readers of this

type of writing. Identify common format & stylistic features, using examples . Explain why these features make sense given readers use of the document. Annotate rhetorical moves writers should make to answer readers questions. Give short exercises where students practice identifying and using the moves. The Recipe as Genre What is the purpose of a cookbook recipe? Who writes /who reads them? Is the purpose different in specialty cookbooks with unique

readerships (gourmands, busy moms, kids cookbook, vegan crowd)? Despite differences, there are some commonalities in structure and moves across the recipe genre. List these commonalities. Given the way readers use the cookbook and the information they need, why do these conventions make sense? How might subtle differences be accounted for? 2. Demonstrate strategies-in-action Do a parallel (mini) task together Have students name/define the strategies being used Have them apply the strategies in teams, working with a small piece of their current assignment Have them use strategy cards or checklist

later, as they complete the assignment Jeffs strategy cards Break the question into categories legal status social role occupation Decide datas relevance to categoriessort Decide what info is most believable use own knowledge, repetition of data, data that supports other data Find correlations between categories So a reason they cant get jobs is because their main responsibility is seen as being a motherMen were doing the industrial revolution jobs and womenjust being a teacher or domestic servant, which is kind of like being a mother. Matrix note structure jobs

Before 1800 After 1800 home resp legal rights attitudes 3.Provide language templates Provide writing templates (write structuring language for them and have them fill in content) Ask them to read professional samples to find stock terms and

phrases Later, have them fill in the template but then replace some of its language with other acceptable phrasing 4. Structure peer or self review Dont have them assess everything at once; they should focus attention on specific problems or strengths Teach students to analyze their own or each others drafts for these problem/strengths Have students comment on these problems then discuss revision plan a partner, or have them find and revise one example in someone elses draft Give them time to apply what they learn to their own draft

Final thoughts Designing teaching materials is an investment but one that pays off. Developing the materials can help you as writer, can help with TA professional development, and can lead to improvement in student writing and thinking. It may not require as much class time as you think. Be economicalteach the hard parts in depth rather than trying to cover /teach everything. Providing instruction and feedback in planning and drafting stages will give you less to do later, when commenting on complete drafts. For next time Earlier, you attempted to describe a recurrent problem with student writing in one of your assignments. Drawing on the explicit teaching strategies suggested today, design some teaching materials you can use. This may be a

homework assignment, a set of guidelines, a teaching demo, a mini-lecture, a set of strategy cards or rubrics, an annotated sample document, peer review instructions, etc. Or if you prefer. . . Look across your stack of student papers. Group them into A, B, C level papers. Where are the common weaknesses? Review your grading criteria and then revise those criteria to make them more specific and instructive in light of your list of weaknesses. Consider how you might use excerpts from the student papers to flag what you are and are not looking for. Or design an exercise where students will somehow assess these samples using your criteria (note: take the names off). Or, to back up a bit Return to the assignment or sequence you started planning last week. Put the assignment due date into your course schedule, and work backwards, identifying one or two class periods where you might build in some instructional class activities or create early deadlines for subtasks. Help in the middle: Nine approaches to more explicit writing instruction 1. 2.

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Scaffold & sequence assignments to build on previous learning Do a parallel task WITH students first, articulating the strategies Analyze the genre and annotate key moves; have students identify and practice the moves with small samples before writing Create a rubric together; do a norming session, using the rubric on samples of previous papers Assign collaborative planning, brainstorming; approve the plan Demonstrate search strategies and source evaluation

Demonstrate note-taking strategies, synthesizing tools (matrices, annotated bibs, source maps) Provide structured, early feedback (you, peers, TAs) on partial or full drafts Do a reading protocol, narrating a readers responses to a draft

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